LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Stefan Gartrell was disappointed when the Braves did not provide him a call to the Majors while in the midst of an impressive, power-filled season last year. But now that the 28-year-old outfielder is in the club's big league camp as a non-roster invitee, he knows it is his responsibility to impress manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff.
"I try to live in the moment or play in the moment, but I'm not going to lie, because it is a goal I've had my whole life, to be in the big leagues," Gartrell said. "People say, 'Oh, you're this close.' It's cool to hear it, because you're like, 'Yeah, I'm really close to realizing a dream.' But at the same time, you're like, 'Man, I was this close to realizing a dream, but it didn't happen.' But it's good motivation."
The Braves acquired Gartrell from the White Sox in April, and then watched him hit .260 with 25 homers and a .499 slugging percentage in 116 games with Triple-A Gwinnett. But even as the team struggled to get production from its corner outfielders last year, it did not promote him.
"It's going to help a lot to interact with the coaches and for them to see how I play," Gartrell said. "The scouting is really good here. But they can only tell them so much. So I think it will be important for me to show I can run a little faster than people think, my arm is a little better than people think, my plate discipline is always getting better, and stuff like that."
Freeman shows increased mobility in knee
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman provided more reason to be encouraged about his right knee Friday, when he experienced no problems taking an unexpected jog around the main field at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex.
Wearing a supportive sleeve on his right knee, Freeman was supposed to simply walk around the field twice. But the 22-year-old first baseman opted to push himself a little harder by jogging for the first time since his right kneecap briefly popped out of place on Tuesday.
"I feel great," Freeman said. "Hopefully, they will let me start hitting [in batting practice] again tomorrow or Sunday."
The Braves said Freeman would likely miss a week or two after diagnosing him with a subluxed right patella. There is certainly no need to rush the young first baseman at this time. But the increased mobility he has shown over the past few days indicates he might be cleared to resume all activities before that two-week mark.
"Obviously, they are not listening to me," Freeman said. "If they were listening to me, I would have been back in there already."
Freeman was sidelined for a week and then limited to designated-hitter duties for the next five days when he suffered the same injury while playing for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2010. He will likely have to wear some kind of supportive brace on his knee for the remainder of his career.
Fredi sets early spring rotation
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has arranged his Grapefruit League starting rotation to allow Tommy Hanson the chance to be easily inserted once he is deemed ready to make his first start of the exhibition season.
Hanson fell behind schedule after suffering a Grade 1 concussion on Feb. 20, and he will not be ready to make a start the first time through the rotation. But encouraged by his recent progress, the Braves believe he will be ready to piggyback with Kris Medlen the second time through.
This would mean Hanson would make his exhibition season debut against the Blue Jays on March 11. The 25-year-old right-hander would be scheduled to throw two innings that day, and Medlen would be scheduled to throw three innings in what would be his second appearance of the exhibition season.
Mike Minor will start Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers. Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran will both be scheduled to pitch two innings when the Braves travel to Lakeland, Fla., to play the Tigers on Sunday.
Jair Jurrjens will start against the Astros on Monday, and Medlen will start against the Nationals on Tuesday. Brandon Beachy will complete the first turn through the rotation with Wednesday's game against the Tigers.
With Tim Hudson expected to miss at least the regular season's first month as he recovers from back surgery, Delgado and Teheran are battling for the rotation's last spot. Their second turn through the rotation falls on March 9, when the Braves are scheduled to play the Yankees and Mets in split-squad games.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he plans to utilize the designated hitter for each of his games through March 18. He wants to use this arrangement until his starting pitchers reach a point where they will be scheduled to throw three or four innings.
The Braves have been pleased with the kind of instruction and interaction David Justice and Fred McGriff have provided while serving as special instructors over the past week. Gonzalez has invited McGriff, a Tampa resident, to come hang around the team whenever he wants for the remainder of the month.
Gonzalez chose not to release the names of the relievers scheduled to pitch during Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers.
The Braves agreed to terms with each of their 24 players with zero to three years of service. This marks the first time Tommy Hanson has agreed to his salary. His contract had been unilaterally renewed both of the previous two seasons.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.